Former Brazilian president and renowned sociologist to lecture at Vanderbilt; Cardoso will discuss current challenges for Latin American democracies

When former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso delivers a public lecture at Vanderbilt University on Oct. 8, he will continue an extraordinary relationship between Brazil and Vanderbilt that began shortly after World War II.

The Vanderbilt Institute for Brazilian Studies, which later became the Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies, was established in 1947 with seed money from the Carnegie Corporation. The late Chancellor Harvie Branscomb led the university’s effort to establish a major cooperative program for research and teaching with Brazil.

Cardoso, whose lecture is part of the center’s 60-year anniversary celebration, will address “Democracy in Latin America: The Way Forward.” His talk will be at 7 p.m. in the Wyatt Center’s Rotunda on the Peabody campus. Prior to the talk, a reception will take place at 6 p.m. in the Wyatt lobby. Both events are free to the public.

Cardoso is a renowned sociologist who served as Brazil’s president from 1995 to 2003. He will examine the challenges that face Latin American democracies today, such as the rise of populism, effects of globalization and the emergence of a new left, according to Edward F. Fischer, the center’s director. “We are thrilled that Cardoso, a hugely popular president noted for widely respected economic policies and market reforms during his tenure, will help the center celebrate this milestone,” he said.

Cardoso, who was born in Rio de Janeiro, received his doctorate in political science from the University of Sao Paulo. He was among the founders of the Social Democratic Brazilian Party.

Cardoso’s speech at Vanderbilt comes 58 years after another Brazilian president, Eurico Gaspar Dutra, visited Vanderbilt and Nashville during an official trip to the United States. During his visit in May 1949, Dutra was named honorary chairman of the Vanderbilt Institute for Brazilian Studies. In addition, Vanderbilt alumni gave Dutra a Tennessee walking horse, according to Vanderbilt Magazine.

Downtown Nashville marked Dutra’s visit by decorating telephone poles with Brazilian flags. The Tennessean ran stories from the Associated Press about Brazil in Portuguese. This enabled Dutra and those traveling with him to read the latest news about Brazil in their native language.

The institute at Vanderbilt housed a center for research and publications about Brazil. It provided training for undergraduate and graduate students interested in work related to Brazil. The institute also served to educate the community about the economic, social and cultural life of Brazil and other Latin American nations.

Today the Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies continues the institute’s original mission while expanding its areas of expertise to include Maya anthropology and archaeology, the study of democracy building and economic development, Latin American literature and languages, and African populations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In 2005 the center received a prestigious $1.5 million federal grant from the Department of Education to assist faculty and students working in Latin America as well as to expand an outreach program for local public schools and the Nashville community.

The center also has been designated a stand-alone National Resource Center, the highest recognition the Department of Education can award the program.

For more information about Cardoso’s lecture and the celebration, call 615-322-2527 or send an email to Live video of the lecture will be available on VUCast at

Media Contact: Ann Marie Deer Owens, 615-322-NEWS